Being the mother of an athlete is a challenging yet rewarding role. So momsTEAM has designated May as Sports Moms Month and is celebrating by asking some of our favorite sports moms to share their wisdom by responding to a series of questions.
So far this month we have heard from a fascinating range of sports moms, from a mom of an Olympic athlete to moms who were themselves Olympic athletes, from a mom of two former minor league baseball players to a Minnesota hockey mom and author.
Today, we hear from sports mom and diet guru, Tammy Beasley:
MomsTEAM: Were you an athlete and what sports did you play as a youth (under 19)?
Beasley: Growing up in the seventies, in the deep South, I was not encouraged to participate in sports of any sort outside of ballet and baton lessons! I did not discover my love for all things sports until college, when I began competing in distance races on my own in Birmingham, Alabama. Running became my favorite activity, and I loved the camaraderie of my training group who ran together every week morning at 5:30.
Marrying in my late twenties, I moved to Miami and discovered spinning, and became a spinning instructor myself a few years later. Running flat roads in eternally hot Miami wasn't nearly as much fun as running the hills of seasonal Birmingham, and the finish line always was a mirage, looking closer than it was every time! A big city like Miami had lots of sporting events to attend, and I fell in love with NBA and continued to follow my beloved Auburn Tigers during football season. MomsTEAM: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a sports mom?
MomsTEAM: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a sports mom?
Beasley: I was blessed with two boys after many failed attempts at healthy pregnancies, and those boys LOVE THEIR SPORTS! Pretty sure my youngest son played sports in my womb, too, based on the amount of kicking he did! Neither one is without a ball of some sort in their hands at any opportunity they get, and guess what sport they love the most? Not basketball (although they really enjoy it), not football (after both played and suffered concussions at each of their season openers!), not running - but baseball! Which sport did I like the least, or better yet, underappreciated the most? Baseball! But there is nothing cuter than a four year old in a baseball uniform hitting off the tee, and within five years I was watching MLB games in my hotel room when traveling on business and knew I had "made it!" It also helped that the Marlins opened their new franchise during my Miami years, and managed to win the World Series in only five years of that first pitch!
MomsTEAM: What lesson has your sports active child taught you?
Beasley: The lessons my boys have taught me from playing sports are so many, but probably the most life-changing one is learning the difference between "failure" and "unfortunate." My youngest son put so much pressure on himself on the pitcher's mound if he didn't throw a strike, and at the plate if he swung at a ball. The same child who received deep joy from playing baseball would literally lose it on the field if his game wasn't up to his standards, resulting in tears and the head coach having to pull him off the diamond so he could get it back together.
This little boy was only 8, so we knew we had some lessons to learn! I asked a friend of mine who is a sports psychologist to talk with him over lunch, and Luke was introduced to the word "unfortunate." When he walks a player, it isn't devastating, it isn't the end of the world, and he isn't a failure, it is just an UNFORTUNATE event that will pass, and few if any will remember. Somehow learning to translate a mistake which meant failure to Luke into a simple unfortunate event changed my son's outlook completely. This same young man is 14 today, and he is known as the "Ice Man" on the mound, never flinching if he makes a mistake, if he strikes out himself, or is he walks a batter. I am so proud of him for realizing that unfortunate events occur, but we all can learn from those events and become stronger and wiser because of them!
MomsTEAM: If you could "flip a switch" and change one thing about the culture of youth sports what would it be?
Beasley: If I could ‘flip a switch' and change on thing about the culture of youth sports today, it would be over-involved parents to the point that the child is humiliated on the field by his own parent's words and actions, or the umpire has to stop the game to silence a parent heckler. My husband has a saying that he heard from a wise older friend, "One of the most harmful person's in your child's life is the person YOU did NOT become."
How true! I feel like parents who berate their child's performance vocally and publicly during a game, or yell at the umpire for a perceived bad call, are living their lives through their children to the point of harm. Whatever goals they themselves didn't reach, or whatever disappointments life itself has thrown at them, become the goals they set for their own children. I am a very competitive person, and I have put a lot of pressure on myself growing up to jump over the bar, only to raise it higher the next time. I have found myself critical of my own performance time after time, striving for perfection which is unattainable, and it required a lot of time and energy and yes, some therapy, to overcome.
I do not want to pass on that painful legacy to my own boys. Many parents criticize their child's performance, but in reality it may simply be their own embarrassment that their child's error maybe cost a run or lost a game. I have seen many young aspiring athletes quit the game for that reason alone - never being able to live up to their own parents' standards, let alone their own. This takes away the joy of the game, the celebration of body movement itself and the wonderful life lessons that team sports can provide to our children.
MomsTEAM: Brag a little--what have you done to make sports better for kids? Please share.
Beasley: As a sports dietitian, I really enjoy helping my sons' teams learn how to fuel their bodies with the right food and fluids to keep them performing at their best. Since dehydration of only 2% of body weight alone can reduce performance by 20%, simply drinking enough water and sports drinks when appropriate can make the difference in that final out, that final hit, that final run to win the game.
My advice to fellow sports moms is to have fun out there! The time passes quickly, because those little four-year-old boys are now a freshman and junior in high school, playing 6A baseball! I actually calculated that my husband and I spent 30 hours a week on the bleachers between February 16 and April 20th. That's a LOT OF BLEACHER TIME (I did throw in a lot of stretching and, of course, jumping up and down when the team had a big moment!). In fact, if you listen closely during June, when baseball season picks back up for a month of summer ball, you just might hear me screaming, "Let's go Panthers, "and "Way to go, Adam and Luke!"
Consultant, speaker, Spinning instructor, and registered dietitian, Tammy Beasley, RD, CSSD, LD, is a certified eating disorder registered dietitian (CEDRD) and founder and creator of Rev It Up!, a program which approaches wellness by looking at metabolism first - how the body works, and why the traditional way of "doing diets" isn't enough - now being offered in twenty-five states across the U.S. You can follow Tammy on Twitter @tambeasrd and find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/revitupfitness.